Israeli museum treasures online
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Israeli museum treasures online

Clay sculpture by Nachum Gutman at Nachum Gutman Museum in Tel Aviv. (Museumsinisrael.gov.il/Israel 21C)
Clay sculpture by Nachum Gutman at Nachum Gutman Museum in Tel Aviv. (Museumsinisrael.gov.il/Israel 21C)

It is an ironic but true thing that it’s often the most sophisticated work that evokes the least sophisticated response from us.

Art from the Israel (Museum.museumsinisrael.gov.il/Israel 21C)
Art from the Israel (Museum.museumsinisrael.gov.il/Israel 21C)

As in “Oh wow!” As in open-mouthed staring.

That is the logical response to a new website from Israel, MuseumsInIsrael.gov.il. It’s a portal, in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, to the country’s museums, a showcase both for Israel’s cutting-edge technical sector and for its museums. Fun fact: Israel has more museums per capital than any other country.

“Braid & Tower,” a work by Drora Dominey at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art.Asaf Brener/Israel 21C
“Braid & Tower,” a work by Drora Dominey at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art. (Asaf Brener/Israel 21C)

It’s a joint venture, four years in the making, of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the heritage division of the prime minister’s office, and more than 50 of the country’s museums.

The site offers quick access to information and high-resolution photos, including of works of art that are not on display, in these categories: art; Judaica; history; archaeology; world cultures; and nature and science. Some of the photos can be rotated online. You can search the site by museum, item, or exhibition.

A steel numerator at MadaTech Israel National Museum of Science in Haifa. (MadaTech Multimedia Studio/Israel 21C)
A steel numerator at MadaTech Israel National Museum of Science in Haifa. (MadaTech Multimedia Studio/Israel 21C)

It’s part of a rethinking of how to use the internet, a basic reorientation to “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Just as newspapers have learned that they cannot ignore the Internet but instead have to post their content and learn how to sell advertising around it, so, too, do museums realize that if they display some of their prizes online, people will consider paying entrance fees to the museum to see more.

So take a look at the museums spreading their richness before you.

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